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Capital Metro

By 16 May 2014 195

light-rail

The closer we get to the magical fairytale of light rail in Canberra, the more it appears that the accounting on this big ticket item has come from the Brothers Grimm.

At the start of this week, Treasurer Andrew Barr was up in arms because of the story that the Canberra Times had run suggesting there would be a city wide levy on rates to pay for toy train line.

He told me that was just incorrect.

“Ok Minister, so you can categorically rule out a city wide levy ?”
“Oh no,” said Mr Barr, “I’m not in the business of ruling things in and ruling things out at this stage.”
“So was the Canberra Times correct in their suggestion ?”
“No they were wrong.”
“So you can rule it out ?”
“No I can’t”

It became an endless conversation and it left my listeners believing that there was as fair chance they would be subject to a city wide levy.

I spoke to the Chief Minister, the morning after the Federal Budget and she wasn’t much clearer.

I put it to her that government “didn’t seem to have any idea how we were going to find the money for this project.”

She explained to me that, it’s not like that I have no idea, it’s just that they have lots of ideas and they haven’t decided which one to go with yet.

And NOTHING is being ruled in or out.

I’m not diametrically opposed to light rail in Canberra. I think if we could wave a magic wand and create a line between Gungahlin and Civic tomorrow it would be wonderful for our city. But we can’t.

Is there anyone reading this who believes the project will be delivered on time and on budget?
Yes Capital Metro has the potential to genuinely propel our city into the 21st century, but at what cost?

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195 Responses to Capital Metro
#61
davo1011:37 pm, 20 May 14

dtc said :

But don’t argue on the basis of ‘we don’t need it’ unless you also make that argument against (for example) the Majura parkway.

Yeah, two facts:
Majura Parkway: net present value $480 million
Tram Plan: net present value $0*

The tram plan is by definition unnecessary.

*Actually claimed to be $10 million, but in an $800 million that’s near enough to rounding error to ignore.

#62
Pandy9:57 pm, 22 May 14

damien haas said :

qbngeek said :

damien haas said :

Yes.

If properly managed, the project can be delivered on time and on budget.

The question you ask Mark is not related to the point you are trying to make in your article. The article alludes to financing options that aren’t yet decided upon, are part of a range of options, and which you (and other journos) have singled out as the one to focus upon.

I am heartened that you think light rail is a good idea.

As the project is going ahead, It has to be paid for in some form.

The federal governments of both liberal and labour flavours preferred not to invest in ACT public transport infrastructure. If we both agree light rail is a good idea, we agree it must be paid for, then the points of difference come down to the method of financing. I suggest its best to explore all options and then arrive at the method most likely to ensure that it actually can be built.

Let us wait and see what the real financing option is before hyperventilating about magical fairytales.

Damien Haas
Chair, ACT Light Rail

Damien,
I don’t want this to sound like an attack on you personally, but I have noticed that the only people who seem to be willing to fight to tooth and nail for light rail are those that live in or around Gungahlin or on the route it will take. Would you fight so hard for it if it was running to Woden and not going to assist Gungahlin at all?

The ACT government has spent many years catering to Gungahlin and what its people want, while letting other areas of Canberra go without until its time for an election and they need some votes. The worst part is that I am not from the ACT and I can see this so I wonder how people who actually live in south ACT feel.

I don’t live in Gungahlin, i don’t own property in Gungahlin or anywhere near Gungahlin or the route chosen. I would be supportive of Capital Metro if the first route was Molonglo to Civic or Tuggeranong via Woden to Civic.

Most members of ACT Light Rail are from all over Canberra. The Deputy Chair and Secretary are from Gungahlin. They were also members of the GCC.

It is a misnomer that there is no support for Capital Metro except from those in Gungahlin that will immediately benefit. I would prefer all Canberrans to take a long term view. You do need to start somewhere, and the Northbourne Flemington corridor is the first route chosen for many reasons.

ACTGOV are already doing some planning for extensions – although I really would prefer all effort was directed to cementing the financing and beginning construction.

I was at a TCC meeting recently and heard some very parochial views on how all money was being spent in Gungahlin and nothing down south, which just defies scrutiny (and i should point out, do not represent the views of the TCC which have always been supportive of light rail). First i would say that it simply isn’t true, there was significant spending on the Monaro quite recently and secondly, i may never need to use a sewage pipe in Gilmore, but I don’t object to them being installed. I hope I live to see light rail running from Jerrabombera to Hall.

And who are the TCC? Not elected by the wider population. Just a few old foggiest with nothing better to.do. if they did represent the greater views of Tuggers, they would be against trams to Gunghalin.

#63
jase!4:37 am, 23 May 14

nothappyjan said :

The Brazilians in Curitiba seem to have been doing this better than anyone for a very long time. Why can’t the ACT council learn from best practice rather than pretending to have a clue when they clearly don’t.

see it in action on SBS at http://www.sbs.com.au/programs/this-is-brazil/article/2014/04/23/episode-1-curitiba-belo-horizonte

or read about it at -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rede_Integrada_de_Transporte
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bus_rapid_transit

This, with the first dedicated bus lane right down the middle of northbourne.

Surely those 2 pages can be the start of a Cost benefit analysis of why it makes more sense than light rail.

Would Shane Rattenbury like to reply to this thread explaining the benefits of light rail over BRT for canberra?

#64
Az8:49 am, 23 May 14

Light rail’s a great idea.

If we could afford it. We can’t. Someone blew the budget on festivals, fake forests and football teams during a period of massive revenue growth in the ACT.

Now the downturn has come and there’s nothing left, no-one provisioned for this inevitability. The credit card bill is huge and basic services are going to suffer.

Stick a fancy 3D model of the light rail in Woden’s ER waiting room.

#65
davo1018:57 am, 23 May 14

jase! said :

Surely those 2 pages can be the start of a Cost benefit analysis of why it makes more sense than light rail.

Too late already done. See page 80 of this report. If we use the Field of Dreams/Magic Pudding scenario the benefits are:

Bus $1.2 billion
Tram $1.2 billion

and costs are:

Bus $250 million
Tram $525 million

That right! The same benefit for only slightly more than twice the cost. It’s the kind of genius you might only see one or twice in a generation.

#66
miz12:03 pm, 23 May 14

Damian said “I was at a TCC meeting recently and heard some very parochial views on how all money was being spent in Gungahlin and nothing down south, which just defies scrutiny (and i should point out, do not represent the views of the TCC which have always been supportive of light rail). First i would say that it simply isn’t true, there was significant spending on the Monaro quite recently and secondly, i may never need to use a sewage pipe in Gilmore, but I don’t object to them being installed. I hope I live to see light rail running from Jerrabombera to Hall.”

I was at that TCC meeting and my recollection is quite different to yours. Tuggeranong people expressed considerable chagrin about the fact that they will get no benefit whatsoever from the planned light rail project yet are expected to pay for it. They also drew the speaker’s attention to the fact that even Gunners does not have the density to support it (statistics were provided).

Tuggeranong residents perhaps might have held a different view if the project actually ends up completed as planned (including to parts of Tuggers -though unfortunately not the Monaro Highway which is a strange omission – this was pointed out at the TCC meeting). Or it might even be something Tuggeranong could support if the first leg added a missing public transport link such as Civic to the airport; however the repeated Tuggeranong experience is that projects and policies invariably start on the north and get cancelled before they get to Tuggeranong, so why would anyone in Tuggeranong think this is any different? That may seem parochial to you, but to me that is the voice of experience and common sense. You seem to indicate that Tuggeranong should be lucky the govt is actually duplicating Ashley/Erindale Drives, 30 years later – it appears you think we should be grateful for that? Recent money spent on the Monaro Hwy was all up the Fyshwick end (the bridge), which is hardly what could be considered ‘money spent on Tuggeranong’.
Further, your argument that ‘all taxpayers pay for things they don’t use’ is a spurious one in this case, as you are not comparing like with like. The light rail project, while perhaps desirable, is completely unnecessary at this time (as it completely duplicates an existing, well patronised bus service) and is very, very expensive to boot – unlike something like repairing a sewer pipe which is an essential service for which people pay rates and would have serious public health implications if not attended to.
When did you last use an ACTION bus? Apart from weekends (which continue to be neglected) they are clean and generally efficient, particularly at peak times. I dare you to take the bus along the proposed light rail route. If you do that and are honest with yourself, you will see that we really don’t need light rail.

#67
miz12:10 pm, 23 May 14

Pandy, see my recent comment on Damien’s comment about the TCC meeting on light rail. You will be pleased to hear that his recollection does not tally with what actually happened.

#68
jgsma6:49 pm, 23 May 14

And now – a walk of 1.5km to a tram stop is seen as ok (according to a report in the CT today from the Cap Metro). Googlemap says that walking 1.5km takes 18 minutes. 18 minutes walking for an elderly person, or if carrying your shopping means back to the car for some of us.

According to Ms Thomas the traffic lights on Northbourne will need to be synchronised – what a surprise. Why can’t that happen immediately so that the benefits of more efficient travel by buses and cars can begin right now?

#69
banco9:46 pm, 23 May 14

miz said :

Tuggeranong residents perhaps might have held a different view if the project actually ends up completed as planned (including to parts of Tuggers -though unfortunately not the Monaro Highway which is a strange omission – this was pointed out at the TCC meeting).

There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell this thing gets to Tuggers.

#70
Masquara10:00 pm, 23 May 14

banco said :

miz said :

Tuggeranong residents perhaps might have held a different view if the project actually ends up completed as planned (including to parts of Tuggers -though unfortunately not the Monaro Highway which is a strange omission – this was pointed out at the TCC meeting).

There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell this thing gets to Tuggers.

I would say that the budget has this “dead, buried and cremated” …

#71
rommeldog568:55 am, 24 May 14

bigred said :

The whole idea of the light rail project is to provide an economic stimulus during the coming downturn. Don’t really care where they get the $, but the economy needs this to start asap. The secondary benefits inlude fixed transport linkages and increased land tax revenue. Bit of a no lose really.

Oh, come on “….I don’t care where they get they get the $….”. Really ? It comes from all ACT residents/ratepayers, as will the ongoing operating loss. Who says that the “….economy needs this to start asap…..” And are you accepting “….increased land tax revenue……” as acceptable ? Good grief – again, this comes from ACT residents/ratepayers !!! With rationale like that bigred, its no wonder the ACT Gov’ts finances are in such a mess – ACT residents/ratepayers must be totally apathetic (or is that too well paid ?) to accept this sort of economic/fiscal madness at the current time.

#72
urchin11:24 am, 24 May 14

After 70 odd posts still haven’t seen anything that demonstrates how or why light rail is superior to a dedicated bus lane. Did i miss something or is it that there really is no cogent argument to support it?

#73
bigred11:41 am, 24 May 14

urchin said :

After 70 odd posts still haven’t seen anything that demonstrates how or why light rail is superior to a dedicated bus lane. Did i miss something or is it that there really is no cogent argument to support it?

The cogent argument is that I expect to make a supernormal profit on a future real estate transaction should it go ahead, if international trends apply in this enclave.

#74
urchin11:53 am, 24 May 14

bigred said :

urchin said :

After 70 odd posts still haven’t seen anything that demonstrates how or why light rail is superior to a dedicated bus lane. Did i miss something or is it that there really is no cogent argument to support it?

The cogent argument is that I expect to make a supernormal profit on a future real estate transaction should it go ahead, if international trends apply in this enclave.

but the report says that property value increases are essentially the same under both LRT and BRT scenarios. so even property speculation doesn’t make sense as a motive. getting paid off by LRT lobbyists would explain it, i suppose…

#75
milkman12:40 pm, 24 May 14

urchin said :

After 70 odd posts still haven’t seen anything that demonstrates how or why light rail is superior to a dedicated bus lane. Did i miss something or is it that there really is no cogent argument to support it?

It’s nothing more than Greens grandstanding. The numbers don’t add up.

#76
rommeldog565:01 pm, 24 May 14

urchin said :

After 70 odd posts still haven’t seen anything that demonstrates how or why light rail is superior to a dedicated bus lane. Did i miss something or is it that there really is no cogent argument to support it?

You are correct, urchin. Apart from the support of some with vested interests like the potential for windfall property value increases for speculators and “green” considerations, it doesn’t stack up economically nor as a matter of logic. We will all pay through the nose for this folly for decades to come. If it goes ahead, I wish there was some way of holding the Ministers/Chief Minister financially responsible for the economic loss eg. with hold their superannuation and offset that against the loss the light rail/tram will inevitably make. Alternatively, get rid of this economically and fiscally incompetent ACT Government and vote for – who ? The ACT Lib’s ? That doesn’t fill me with much more sense of hope I’m afraid. Groan……. But at least they said they will stop the light rail/tram, but how much $ will be spent on it before the next election ?

The only responsible thing for the Labor ACT Government to do is to make it a central plank of the next election (when is that ???) and let the people decide. Gallagher/Barr/Rattenbury MUST declare what the impact of ACT Government charges and Annual Rates will be so that the people can decide if its wothwhile. As it stands, the ACT Government is writing a blank cheque – and all ACT residents/Ratepayers will pay for it !

I sometimes don’t agree with Mark Parton, but on this issue, Mark is 100% correct, so good on him for keeping the heat on the pollies on this one.

#77
urchin5:03 pm, 24 May 14

milkman said :

urchin said :

After 70 odd posts still haven’t seen anything that demonstrates how or why light rail is superior to a dedicated bus lane. Did i miss something or is it that there really is no cogent argument to support it?

It’s nothing more than Greens grandstanding. The numbers don’t add up.

I don’t really buy that either, though. Environmentally the difference between BRT and LRT should be minimal–particularly when compared to private cars. I just don’t see any upside to light rail other than for people who like trains. I like trains too but… 400 million and the risk of falling into the red with even a minor downturn is a lot to pay for being able to say “we have a train”. bus rapid transit, on the other hand, would be fantastic. cheaper, more convenient, virtually the same capacity and speed and able to more flexibly address changing needs.

#78
Masquara5:06 pm, 24 May 14

milkman said :

urchin said :

After 70 odd posts still haven’t seen anything that demonstrates how or why light rail is superior to a dedicated bus lane. Did i miss something or is it that there really is no cogent argument to support it?

It’s nothing more than Greens grandstanding. The numbers don’t add up.

This is all being expressed in terms of property outcomes – not benefits to commuters. A dedicated bus lane is all that’s needed – and the technology has existed for 20 years, that allows buses to “shoot green” traffic lights ahead of them. I can’t see how the property/revenue outcomes would be very different in any case! Shane needs to drop mummy’s hand and stop begging for new toys.

#79
switch6:09 pm, 24 May 14

Masquara said :

A dedicated bus lane is all that’s needed – and the technology has existed for 20 years, that allows buses to “shoot green” traffic lights ahead of them.

Just synchronising the lights properly along Northbourne for everyone would go a long way towards Canberra doing its bit to save the planet. Another trip this arvo stuck waiting at each set…

#80
dungfungus8:37 pm, 24 May 14

switch said :

Masquara said :

A dedicated bus lane is all that’s needed – and the technology has existed for 20 years, that allows buses to “shoot green” traffic lights ahead of them.

Just synchronising the lights properly along Northbourne for everyone would go a long way towards Canberra doing its bit to save the planet. Another trip this arvo stuck waiting at each set…

Ms Thomas has probably just paid an interstate consultant a million dollars of ratepayers’ money to tell her that.

#81
Masquara1:59 pm, 25 May 14

Hopefully at the next election the citizens of Canberra will remind the politicians that we are a smallish city, with smallish-city transport and infrastructure needs.

#82
dungfungus2:27 pm, 25 May 14

Masquara said :

Hopefully at the next election the citizens of Canberra will remind the politicians that we are a smallish city, with smallish-city transport and infrastructure needs.

Hopefully, the next election will be before 2016.

#83
bigfeet2:30 pm, 25 May 14

Masquara said :

Hopefully at the next election the citizens of Canberra will remind the politicians that we are a smallish city, with smallish-city transport and infrastructure needs.

Unfortunately in our smallish city, we have smallish politicians with an over-inflated sense of their own importance.

#84
gazket7:35 pm, 25 May 14

Why do they always draw the train so small and not to scale. What is wrong with a bus lane down the left hand lane of Northbourne Ave.

A train line in the centre of Northbourne Ave with a train every 2 minutes is going to cause traffic chaos for every Canberran commuter who doesn’t live in Gungahlin but needs to travel Northbourne Ave.

Where is the carpark for commuters going to fit in Gungahlin town centre or are extra busses going to be needed to feed the train it’s passengers? The feeder buss from Bonner will take 30/40 minutes just to get to Gungahlin by the time it does it’s milk run to pick people up. 50 people to a bus and to get the 4000 people to use the train in the morning will need around 80 bus trips.

The train numbers don’t add up at all to make the train anywhere near profitable ever.

#85
goggles138:37 pm, 25 May 14

dungfungus said :

dungfungus said :

montana said :

I’ve never understood why cities use Trams.

Is it because they are considered cooler than stinky old buses?

A tram isn’t going to get to point A to point B any faster than a bus, and if it does it was because there were upgrades made elsewhere, the same upgrades could have just been made for a bus.

Trams are struck to one route whilst buses can go anywhere.

Oh and trams cost heaps to install the tracks.

Am I missing something? what is the advantage of a tram over a bus?

A Metro – now that would be something!

A steel wheel on a steel rail has less rolling resistance that a rubber tyre on a bitumen road.
Trams look cooler than buses and cost heaps more. They also usually are powered by electricity which is perceived to be cleaner because the dirty bits involved in generating and transmitting the power are miles away.
What other reasons do you want?
Oh, and the tram salesmen have better deals than the bus ones.

Oh, and Capital Metro sounds groovier than Capital Tram.

What about Captial Monorail. Lyle Lanley did a good sales job for Springfield

#86
gooterz8:55 pm, 25 May 14

gazket said :

The train numbers don’t add up at all to make the train anywhere near profitable ever.

Neither do the busses.

How long before the trolley breaks down and causes a city wide traffic jam.

#87
bigfeet9:04 pm, 25 May 14

goggles13 said :

What about Captial Monorail. Lyle Lanley did a good sales job for Springfield

Is there a chance the track could bend?

#88
dungfungus10:10 pm, 25 May 14

goggles13 said :

dungfungus said :

dungfungus said :

montana said :

I’ve never understood why cities use Trams.

Is it because they are considered cooler than stinky old buses?

A tram isn’t going to get to point A to point B any faster than a bus, and if it does it was because there were upgrades made elsewhere, the same upgrades could have just been made for a bus.

Trams are struck to one route whilst buses can go anywhere.

Oh and trams cost heaps to install the tracks.

Am I missing something? what is the advantage of a tram over a bus?

A Metro – now that would be something!

A steel wheel on a steel rail has less rolling resistance that a rubber tyre on a bitumen road.
Trams look cooler than buses and cost heaps more. They also usually are powered by electricity which is perceived to be cleaner because the dirty bits involved in generating and transmitting the power are miles away.
What other reasons do you want?
Oh, and the tram salesmen have better deals than the bus ones.

Oh, and Capital Metro sounds groovier than Capital Tram.

What about Captial Monorail. Lyle Lanley did a good sales job for Springfield

What about this in tomorrow’s SMH?
http://www.smh.com.au/act-news/liberals-say-canberra-light-rail-network-could-cost-109-billion-20140525-zrncr.html

#89
dungfungus10:23 pm, 25 May 14

gooterz said :

gazket said :

The train numbers don’t add up at all to make the train anywhere near profitable ever.

Neither do the busses.

How long before the trolley breaks down and causes a city wide traffic jam.

Like this?
http://www.scotsman.com/news/transport/traffic-chaos-after-tram-breaks-down-during-info-event-1-3421877

#90
urchin11:38 pm, 25 May 14

gooterz said :

gazket said :

The train numbers don’t add up at all to make the train anywhere near profitable ever.

Neither do the busses.

How long before the trolley breaks down and causes a city wide traffic jam.

actually if you read the report, the bus rapid transit plan seems quite likely to generate a reasonable return on investment. assuming one can believe the report, of course. in any event, i don’t have a problem with mass transit “losing money” (any more than i have a problem with road maintenance or garbage collection “losing money”). it’s a service that contributes to the overall welfare of the city. however, when you have two alternatives virtually indistinguishable in terms of benefits but one costs a fraction of the other and yet, despite this, the gov’t keeps pushing for the option guaranteed to lose the most money… well, it is puzzling

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